The early rounds of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup have recently provided young players a valuable and much-needed opportunity to get minutes for Major League Soccer teams. And that’s exactly what Columbus Crew SC’s midfielder Eduardo Sosa is looking for.
Signed by the club in January, the 21-year-old Venezuelan logged only 28 minutes for the Black & Gold so far this year, as he entered in the second half of last Saturday’s match against Toronto FC.
A new opportunity could come soon as head coach Gregg Berhalter is expected to rest some of his starters in the team’s Open Cup’s debut on Wednesday against the Chicago Fire at MAPFRE Stadium.
“Gregg didn’t tell me if I’m going to play or not, but I’m confident I’ll get some time on Wednesday,” Sosa said. “Starting the match or coming off the bench, I will give everything I have to help the team. I’ve been working hard and preparing to play for the entire month. Now I want to keep earning my space to play more.”
Sosa’s debut for Crew SC was delayed by a right ankle injury he picked up in March during a scrimmage against FC Cincinnati that sidelined him for five weeks. When the Venezuelan resumed training, the team was in a good moment and he had to wait for an opportunity.
However, with Sosa fully recovered, Berhalter anticipates he will see the field more often from now on and will become a new option for the team as the season progresses and especially over the next eight days, when the Black & Gold will play three matches.
“You don’t want these guys to languish too long without contributing,” the coach added. “He’s a guy who left his country and committed to us, so we need to give him some game time. It’s not easy, the team has been in good form and he plays in the position of one of our best players. There’s a lot that contributes to it, but he’ll get a chance.”
In less than half an hour of playing time with Crew SC, Sosa has already accomplished a lot. He was one of the three substitutes Berhalter sent to the field at the 62nd minute of the match against Toronto, when the scoreboard showed 3-0 to the Canadians – center back Alex Crognale and midfielder Luis Argudo were the other two. The trio’s entrance completely changed the match and the Black & Gold pushed forward to get an unlikely 3-3 tie and extend their undefeated streak to eight matches.
“We entered the match in a very difficult moment,” Sosa commented. “Toronto was all about defending their lead. Fortunately the team changed completely in the second half, we had a new attitude a new mindset and it reflected in the score. It impressed me.
“I was very confident that we could at least tie the match. We knew we didn’t have a lot of pressure as it would be very hard to completely turn things around, but we wanted to change the match and to do something different. We wanted to score a goal fast and when we did it, it was very helpful.”
With his first MLS minutes in the books, Sosa already thinks about his next steps with Crew SC. The plan is to build from his positive debut to, at first, become a regular feature in the team’s game day selection.
“I was waiting for an opportunity since I arrived,” he recalled. “Everything went very well and I’m very happy about it. When you’re not playing, you know that you need to make the most of each minute you get to get more opportunities. I believe I did well and I need to keep my head down and work hard to earn my spot in the game day roster.”